AS A season ticket holder in the Upper East stand at The Amex, can someone please explain to me who took the idiotic decision not to open the upper east for the Derby FA Cup game.

The attendance at the West Bromwich Albion FA Cup fourth round game was 27,000, it is obvious that the Derby game will attract the same, if not more.

The fact that it is now the fifth round as opposed to the fourth round, add in the fact that Frank Lampard is the manager of Derby and it all points to a bumper gate, anyone with any common sense can work that out.

Where is the common sense from the Albion, and why, as a season ticket holder do I have to wait until the club realise they have made another mistake (they should have learned from the WBA game) and then have to try and get a ticket in my own seat, which I could not do for the WBA game.

Surely it is not too late for the club to change their decision and open up the East upper now and allow us season tickets holders a chance to sit in our own seats.

It would be nice to hear from the club as to why they have yet again made the wrong decision, but I doubt very much they will respond.

Roger Lewis, Parkside, Shoreham

Albion's response

RESPECTFULLY, while I appreciate many fans have an opinion on how their football club is run, I’m not sure what qualifies Mr Roger Lewis to stridently and disrespectfully describe Brighton and Hove Albion’s staff as “idiotic” or lacking in “common sense” on these pages, but it would not appear to be much, if any, experience or knowledge of the economics or operations of a professional football club.

There are a number of reasons for not initially opening the upper areas of The Amex, and also for not guaranteeing season ticket holders their usual seats, for the forthcoming FA Cup match against Derby County, all of which the club we have previously explained in this newspaper, and through our own channels, on numerous previous occasions.

Although I do appreciate not everyone is as tuned into this information as we are, running the club on a day-to-day basis. Mr Lewis compares the Derby match with the previous cup tie against West Brom, which drew 27,001 fans, and argues Derby will also attract a “bumper gate”.

As such, Mr Lewis says, the entire stadium should be opened, and that he should be guaranteed his usual seat. But, in his haste to criticise, Mr Lewis has overlooked or ignored a number of factors.  

  • Unlike the West Brom match, Derby is live on TV. The West Brom game kicked at the popular 3pm. Derby is at lunchtime. 
  • West Brom sold 4,300 tickets. Derby want fewer than 1,700.
  • A normal train service ran for the West Brom match. There are issues for the Derby match.
  • The West Brom game was played during a normal working week. The Derby game falls during school holidays, meaning some fans will be away.
  • The club had three weeks to sell tickets for the West Brom match; for Derby we have ten days.

Finally, the West Brom match was the first at home after most people’s monthly pay day, while Derby will be the fourth successive Saturday we have had a home match at the Amex. Keeping ticket prices for cup matches as low as £15/£10/£5 can only be achieved by operating as efficiently as possible and by minimising the club’s costs.

Providing all season-ticket holders with access to their usual seats means opening the whole stadium, which is very expensive, without knowing if 30,000 seats will be needed. An attendance of 27,001 for WBA wasn’t achieved because all season ticket holders showed up.

Instead, many regular fans encouraged their families and friends to sit with them, with many, including kids, visiting the Amex for the first time, something that wouldn’t have happened if season ticket holders had all been guaranteed their seats.

Our ticketing and operations strategy is determined match by match as no two games at the Amex are the same. We look at a huge range of individual factors, including past experiences, but, when FA Cup rules mean we retain just 45 per cent of net revenues, we must manage all of our costs wisely.

This isn’t achieved by throwing the stadium wide open. Nothing will delight us more than to ultimately open the entire stadium for Derby’s visit.

It will mean that, once again, Albion fans have got behind their team in even larger numbers than usual. It’s just this kind of loyal support that has helped take us to the Premier League, and to the fifth round of the FA Cup for the second season running.

Paul Barber, Chief executive and deputy chairman, Brighton and Hove Albion FC